I thought I ought to start getting back toward at least a semi-regular blog. Even though this morning’s lie-in to a decadent 7.30, plus (food) shopping and fitting the new TV rather rather blew that out of the water, I’m determined to say a few words about yesterday, which was hectic and hinged around two very different experiences of lectures.
The day was terrific but exhausting; Ashley Pharoah gave the 9am script lecture, then I spent the day with friends before heading back to uni to give the 5pm guest lecture with Gareth L Powell.
In the morning Pharoah talked about the bizaare genesis of Life on Mars, the rare pleasure of actually ending a series ( Spin-off Ashes to Ashes finishes on the 21st) rather than handing it over to someone else, as Russell T Davies did with Doctor Who, or just having it axed by the network. He also talked about his agent, and the fact that scripwriters cost their agencies an average of £10,000 per client. I’m sure that that’s less for literary agencies, and perhaps comes down the more clients an agency has, although conversely, the less they can do for an individual client, but it’s an interesting insight into the pressures on an agent. That’s something that most writers rarely think about.
Co-hosting the 5pm lecture with Gareth was a very, very different experience.
In actual terms there were only about 30 people there (Gareth estimated 20 to 30, I thought 30 to 40, so let’s go with the middle figure) but the shape of the auditorium, which rises away from one makes even that low number pretty formidable. I suspect that not all of the audience were SF fans, since attendance is theoretically mandatory — though it was the end of the academic year – so I wanted to give them a flavour of proper SF. Gareth went for a lighter approach, and read a short story which went down well, while I read an extract from Winter Song which is perhaps -with hindsight- a little tech heavy, although perfect for a con. There’s a moral there; think about the nature of your audience. But it showed them just how diverse SF is.
Gareth gave them some very tips on writing, which you can read about here, while I talked a little about a typical day, and both of us fielded the ‘where did that story come from?’ which is still a good question to ask.
The whole experience was pretty draining, and offered an insight how it feels to be a lecturer. Some of the questions were tough ones to answer on the hoof, and there were several occasions when I wished afterwards that I’d just had a few more seconds to think before answering — but I felt that I had to keep one eye on the time.
It would be profoundly interesting to go back in a year’s time and repeat the experience, to see whether the experience feels any less overwhelming, and whether any of the students have gotten into SF and/or fantasy.